APEX Network
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APEX Network

APEX Network — Development Progress Update #2

The APEX Network Testnet has been going strong for about 1,5 months, and we are pleased to observe that the community testnet has been operational for nearly as long! Building on our development progress update released in the middle of December, we would like to take this opportunity to update the community on the current state of the testnet. This includes status of development for important modules such as the virtual machine and smart contract support, the block explorer, coming community participation opportunities and some observations made along the way.

Current state of the testnet

We have been hard at work optimizing and stability testing the blockchain, and can confidently say that it is realistic to continue forward with a block time of 0.5 seconds. If we look at the EOS network, each miner produces six seconds worth of blocks, thus twelve blocks in succession. As part of the stress testing of our network, and to ensure the stability of the 0.5 second block rate, each miner on the testnet produced only one block each at a time. During this stress test we did not encounter any issues. The backend data storage keeps a log of every block produced, potential error messages and transactions made on the testnet, and this data is continuously reviewed by the blockchain team to aid in debugging and further optimization.

The smart contract module and our virtual machine

There are obviously huge differences between both scalability and features of different blockchains. Considering Bitcoin for example, only some simple scripts are supported, hence Bitcoin is only used as a digital currency. On the other hand Ethereum’s virtual machine (EVM) is Turing complete and supports all necessary features, hence you can create complex smart contracts to be implemented by any program on Ethereum. This consideration makes is obvious that blockchains with Turing complete virtual machines are highly scalable when considering potential use cases.

The development work involved in developing Turing complete virtual machines is very broad and deep, and PC browsers are essentially a form of virtual machines. By recruiting and training developers with a very high degree of technical literacy and also a deep understanding of virtual machines we have ensured that this area of development is proceeding on track. At the time of writing, virtual machine developers are debugging support for complex smart contracts. After virtual machine development has been completed we intend to release a new version of the testnet that supports virtual machines. This will enable community developers to write and publish their own contracts.

Considering that the DPoS consensus used requires nodes to complete blocks within 0.5 seconds, it is not without its challenges to optimize support for logically complex smart contracts. In addition we need to ensure that malicious nodes and hackers cannot attack the contracts, and we have spent some time on this issue. In the top ten blockchains’ main networks a contract can be executed for up to 50 milliseconds. Once a contract execution timeout occurs, the production node will mark the contract as failed and record it on the block. After receiving this block, other production nodes will not continue to execute the contract. In other words, a malicious node would have the power to attack the contract which is obviously unreasonable, and we are developing a solution that will not allow this scenario to occur.

Phase 2 and the block explorer

Before the testnet supports smart contracts, we will complete and launch the blockchain browser. Development of the full version of the blockchain browser is approximately 60% completed at the moment. All pages of the blockchain browser have already been developed, and frontend engineers are jointly debugging the interfaces. We are concurrently developing the frontend interface of the PC browser blockchain wallet, and are in the process of debugging the interface. Developing the wallet supporting our own blockchain is not a task we see as being difficult — the main challenge is for backend developers to teach the concepts of zero-knowledge proof and how to stich transaction information to frontend developers.

Community participation

We highly recommend that community developers pay attention to the optimization of key aspects of the blockchain code. After implementing support for virtual machines we will be testing the DPoS consensus in relation to smart contracts. During this phase we may consider opening up for community nodes to join the official testnet. This will also be the phase where community developers can start writing and deploying smart contracts on the network.

Another area where community developers may be able to take part is optimization of transaction prioritization. When transactions are being broadcasted, they enter the pool and the miners need to sort them. Prioritizing transactions with high transaction fees ensures maximum benefit for the miners, and algorithms such as this may be open to contributions from developers in the community.

Some notes on the way forward

Based on recent findings, end consumer oriented APEX blockchain wallets may not be as important as previously thought, as we can achieve many of the same results through seamless integration of the blockchain based services into the NEXUS product that our large enterprise customers are already using. This also further lowers the barrier for enterprise customers to adopt APEX’s blockchain technology. Through this approach their consumers will still be able to directly use blockchain services through the existing applications they are already familiar with from these large enterprises.

Furthermore, we have previously mentioned that we are considering standardization of blockchain services. As an example of this, blockchain based point interchange services will be seamlessly embedded into the backend services of our enterprise partners. Thus, when a consumer is using a point service, it is essentially a backend blockchain service that provides the service. As part of our ongoing exploration of the added value an enterprise can gain through adopting this technology, we are currently in discussions with an airline which has expressed significant interest in these blockchain based integrated services.

Final words

We hope this update finds you well, and that you will continue supporting our efforts as we gradually complete development of the different modules. In everything we do we keep the combined needs of the enterprises and the end users in mind, as the only road to success for blockchain technology is through widespread adoption. Through our efforts we are confident that APEX Network will make waves and set new standards for the combined field of Big Data, AI and blockchain — not just in 2019 but also in the years to come. Though not separately announced, our confidence in the future success of APEX Network is shown in the decision made to postpone the unlocking of the first portion of the team’s token allocation for at least another 12 months.

Until next time,
Team APEX

APEX Network

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APEX Team

APEX Team

Blockchain Powering the Next Generation of Consumer Applications